spekboom, noun

Forms:
speckbaum, specboomShow more Also speckbaum, specboom, speckboom, speck-boom, spek-boem, spek-boom.
Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more South African Dutch, from Dutch spek blubber, pork fat + boom tree.
1. The succulent shrub or small tree Portulacaria afra of the Portulacaceae, a valuable fodder plant in times of drought, with fleshy leaves and small pink to lilac flowers; elephant’s food, see elephant. Also attributive.
[1688 G. Tachard Voy. to Siam 51High and thick Hedges, of a kind of Laurel, which they call Speck, always green, and pretty like to the Filaria.]
1823 in Albany Settlers 1824–36 (1836) 20For six days Mrs. B. and six children were reduced to live on speckboom, which they gathered in the woods, and a little milk.
a1827 D. Carmichael in W.J. Hooker Botanical Misc. (1831) II. 261The Speckboom (Portulacaria Afra) is common in the eastern parts of the colony, but does not grow in the vicinity of the Cape...The leaves are small, cuneiform, fleshy, and of an agreeably acid taste.
1828 T. Pringle Ephemerides 104There the spekboom spreads its bowers Of light-green leaves and lilac flowers.
1835 A. Steedman Wanderings I. 67We..obtained a partial alleviation of our thirst by roasting some branches of the spekboom, Portucalaria Afra, which had a juicy, pungent flavour.
1843 Cape of G.H. Almanac & Annual Register 446The high lands..are in general thickly clothed with bush, chiefly speck-boom and other succulent shrubs on which cattle, and sheep, and goats readily browse.
1844 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 135Dried spek-boom branches have equal qualifications with old cordage for excellent brown paper manufacture.
1851 R. Gray Jrnls of Two Visitations II. 171I saw here..the spek-boom tree or shrub in full flower...The flower is of a delicate pink, and reminds me more of the heliotrope than of any other.
1871 J. McKay Reminisc. 156The path was lined on both sides abundantly with spek-boom, a kind of succulent sour plant tree, and the hunger of the men was so intense that they could not be restrained from eating the acid leaves of this bush.
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 88A fleshy, rounded-leaved, scrubby soft-wooded tree or bush,..a very valuable food plant for sheep, cattle and even horses..the spekboom is a bush which recovers rapidly from the injury done by too close browsing by stock, if a season’s respite be granted to it.
1907 T.R. Sim Forests & Forest Flora 5When the Spekboom is in flower its bright rosy colour pervades the scene; at all other times the landscape is dull and sombre, desolate and monotonous; the secluded resort of the Koodoo, the Buffalo, and the Elephant.
1951 N.L. King Tree-Planting 70Portulacaria afra (Spekboom),..An inhabitant of scrub in hot dry localities in eastern Cape, Natal and Zululand. Makes a neat compact hedge, if clipped frequently.
1961 Palmer & Pitman Trees of S. Afr. 323Spekboom. Portulacaria Afra. This small juicy-leaved tree or bush is one of the most outstanding of all our many fodder trees. It is found in abundance in the drier parts of the Eastern Province and on Karroo koppies.
1971 L.G. Green Taste of S.-Easter 161It was the spekboom or elephant’s food, an evergreen shrub flowering in early summer, that provided an enormous honey flow.
1982 E. Prov. Herald 16 Sept. 11The vegetation in the park, mainly spekboom, sneezewood, karoo boerboom and guarri..is so nutritious that it supports three times the number of elephants found in any equivalent area in Africa.
1985 Style Oct. 89Halali, which huddles at the foot of a spekboom-fringed hill, Etosha’s highest point.
1990 M.M. Hacksley (tr. of E. van Heerden) in Lynx 201You stand high on the roof of the world, among hot ironstone and spekboom shrubs.
1992 T. Van Rensburg in S. Afr. Panorama Mar.Apr. 8In the Richtersveld to the north, the quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) and the elephant’s trunk (Pachypodium namaquanum) are the most typical, with the many species of aloe and the spekboom (Portulacaria afra) most typical of the Little Karoo.
2. combination
spekboomveld /-felt/, /-fɛlt/ [Afrikaans, veld open undeveloped countryside], see quotation.
1987 T.F.J. Van Rensburg Intro. to Fynbos 24The following..veld types are mainly found adjoining fynbos areas:..Spekboomveld (dense shrubs dominated by the porkbush Portulacaria afra). From Calitzdorp to Graaff-Reinet.
The succulent shrub or small tree Portulacaria afra of the Portulacaceae, a valuable fodder plant in times of drought, with fleshy leaves and small pink to lilac flowers; elephant’s food, see elephant. Also attributive.

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